Experiencing Lenovo W500 with Windows 7 (RC) – Part II

May 7, 2009 at 8:18 pm | Posted in Lenovo W500, Windows 7 | 15 Comments
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No news to you if I tell you that Windows 7 RC has just become available for download to the public (starting May 5th, you can download it from here).

So if you had the chance to read my previous review about Windows 7, you would now that having this operating system installed all this time has been a real good experience to me and my Lenovo ThinkPad W500. This time I want to share with you the experience of installing this release candidate on my laptop.

So, what’s new on the RC?

You are probably wondering what changes have been introduced in this version compared to the previous beta. I won’t lie, nothing much.

Did you hear the rumor that said that the RC was going to introduce a significant change in the UI? Didn’t happen.

Windows Media Player: Media Streaming. You can now stream music or video using the internet. Sharing the media with other friends and using Windows Live ID. That’s actually quite nice and using a smart technology adapting the streaming to your connection.

More icons on Taskbar: You can now place around 30% more icons on taskbar (depending on your resolution).

IE8. You can uninstall IE8 from Windows Features.

Windows XP Mode (Beta) was also introduced as a feature to download for Windows 7 RC. It is an interesting move to achieve the always controversial application compatibility and motivate people to an early adoption to Windows 7. Basically the feature it’s a Windows XP SP3 virtual machine, for Virtual PC of course, that works together with the operating system and application virtualization. You can download the beta from here.

Plus another things like fixing some minor bugs, adding drivers support, more wallpapers and themes.

Hands-On

Ok then, back to our case, I’ve started the installation on my ThinkPad W500.

Installation Process

Of course, nothing changed in the basic process that you’ve seen so far.

But great news for all the W500 users, the video driver does not crash on the last phase of the installation.

For those that also tried previous beta versions of Windows 7, as we discussed in some comments on previous post, noticed that in the last part of the installation process the screen goes black (the operating system didn’t crash, the installation continues but with no display) and there’s nothing you can do  (you cannot start in safe mode because the installation did not complete). The only resolution, complete the installation completely blind.

Well that problem it’s not present in the RC version.

Regarding to the video adapter, let’s check on the other devices.

Drivers

Here’s where I noticed another good news after the installation was completed. My “Device Manager” looked like this:

I know, nothing promising. But, Windows Update showed me right away the next updates available:

Ok, now we are talking 7. Let’s install them.

There was no need on installing it manually or selecting compatibility mode. After that, my Device Manager looked like this:

Close enough, but we can do better than that. So, I’ve downloaded and installed these drivers:

And yes, the drivers for “PCI Serial Port” and “PCI Simple Communications Controllerdisappeared from “Other Devices”.

On the other hand, the video adapter driver shows ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650 with the yellow exclamation mark. Installing ATI™ Mobility FireGL™ V570? No luck.

ATI released video drivers for Windows 7, but for now there’s no availability for FireGL family.

Software

Another good news is that I was able to install Mozilla Firefox without using the compatibility mode, like I shown on the first post.

Other software installed without any problem:

Unfortunately, Google Chrome still needs to be configured manually to actually work: Add to the execution file path the following “–in-process-plugins”.

Using Microsoft Outlook Connector, I’ve noticed an issue with Office 2007. Whenever you minimize the Outlook window, and if the option is set to “Hide When Minimized”, if you open again Outlook from taskbar or tray, you’ll see that the Outlook Connector option disappeared. The same thing happens if you use Xobni, once you minimize it, the option disappeared and the add-on is closed.

Cool Links

Here are some interesting links to read about Windows 7. I’ll add a few more in the next days.

Conclusions

  • Even though there are no big differences between the first official beta (build 7000) and this one (build 7100), still it is my preferred operating system to use, more than Windows Vista or XP.
  • I’ve noticed also a performance improvement from previous builds.
  • Stability it’s another characteristic I’ve noticed using it on the ThinkPad W500. Even though I’ve installed and uninstalled drivers and software, I haven’t seen any program nor operating system crash.
  • Still waiting for a acceptable solution for the video drivers.

Haven’t tried it yet? What are you waiting for?

Cheers!

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Experiencing Lenovo W500 with Windows 7

January 20, 2009 at 12:45 pm | Posted in Lenovo W500, Windows 7 | 60 Comments
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Also check the updated post using Windows 7 RC:

Experiencing Lenovo W500 with Windows 7 (RC) – Part II

 

Well finally my wait was over on the last week, I could finally get my self a fresh new laptop with all the horse power that I was wanting for :) This new toy of mine is the Lenovo ThinkPad W500.

This fine solid piece of machine it’s not actually a brand new model (around 6 moths older now on their firsts models). My own model (4063-33Y) fits perfectly on most of power users looking for a nice laptop with a better performance.

A few highlights of this notebook (full hardware review at this CNET link):

  • Core 2 Duo T9400 (2.53 GHz) VPro Technology
  • 4GB RAM DDR3
  • 160GB 7200rpm HD
  • 15.4in 1680×1050 LCD
  • ATI™ Mobility FireGL™ V5700 512MB

Before I even received this notebook I knew that Windows 7 was going to be the first operating system to be installed. So, I want to tell you about my experience so far working with Windows 7 inside this laptop.

Installation

No problems here, the installation process executed without any problem. The version selected was the 64 bits.

Note: This is a cool link about why to use Windows 7 with a 64bits architecture.

Drivers

After the Windows 7 installation, almost every “important” device was automatically configured: Video, wireless, Ethernet card and audio.

But if you check the Device Manager, you’ll probably get the following with big and yellow “!”:

Base System Device (x2)
PCI Serial Port
PCI Simple Communications Controller
SM Bus Controller

So, I started to look around and found this link on the Lenovo site that includes all drivers for the T500 and W500 models made to use on Windows Vista (you cannot expect that there are going to be any official drivers for Windows 7 as a Beta operating system). You can download all of the necessary drivers from there.

But to actually solve those yellow exclamation marks, use the following links:

Note: You have to manually install the mentioned drivers to get properly installed: Execute the downloaded file, and access to device manager and select “Update Driver” indicating the folder where the files were uncompressed.

Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to solve the “SM Bus Controller” driver issue. It appears that this one is related to the Intel Matrix Storage driver; but I tried to install it manually and using it ThinkPad System Update, but no luck. So if any of you find the solution to that problem on Windows 7, please share it.

After all that, your device manager should look like this: Check “Updating Info”!

Updating Info

Ok I didn’t have the chance to look much for this “SM Bus Controller” problem, but recently Windows 7 did all the work for me. The Action Center (the place where the OS informs about changes necessary, general health status, etc) notify me that there was a problem with the Intel Chipset driver.

The solution it was very simple, download the zip file (Action Center also included the link), run Troubleshoot Compatibility on the setup file (the same as “Compatibility Mode” on file Properties) and the driver was successfully installed.

If the message is not appearing for you, download the file from this Intel link.

My Device Manager looks like this now:

 

Installed Programs

Here’s a short summary about all the software I installed on Windows 7 and if there were any workarounds to install it:

Microsoft Office 2007 SP1
No problem here.

Foxit Reader (my preferred PDF reader)
No problem here.

Google Chrome
Issue: You can install it, but you won’t be able to browse any page.
Solution: Add to the execution file path the following “–in-process-plugins”. Check this post (on comments area is the correction).

Google Chrome on Windows 7

Google Earth
No problem here.

Mozilla Firefox
Issue: Cannot install it, requires for user name and password but the installation never starts.
Solution: Change the compatibility mode on the installer to Windows Vista.

Mozilla Firefox installer. Compatibility Mode

WinRAR 3.80
No problem here.

Twihrl and Adobe AIR
No problem here.

ThinkVantage System Update
No problem here.

Also, from ThinkPad software and features, I installed successfully:

- Power Manager
- Active Protection System
- Lenovo Fingerprint Software
- Easy Eject
- Hotkey Utility

Check also this other post about using Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) on Windows 7.

Troubleshooting

The only blocking issue I found so far is about running MSI installers that crashed the installation, but fortunately, there is a solution for that too. Check this link:

  1. Delete the string values (Except for (Default)) in HKLM\Software\Microsoft\SQMClient\Windows\DisabledSessions
  2. Start gpedit.msc
  3. Expand Computer Configuration, expand Administrative Templates, expand System, expand Internet Communication Management, and then click Internet Communication settings.
  4. In the details pane, double-click Turn off Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program, and then click Enabled.

Cool Things

I would like to mention some cool things I’ve noticed so far about functionality on Windows 7. I’ll be naming just a few, for checking some other stuff on Windows 7, take a look to the “Cool Links” section.

Shrinking Disks
This function has been present since Windows Vista, but it had a some restrictions, you could not actually shrink a partition on any size you want; there was a total possible available (depending on the partition size and space available). Well this restriction is practically gone, you can shrink any partition almost at the maximum possible (meaning space available).

Finding What You Need from Start Menu
Sometimes to access a feature or changing some options on the operating system you need to make several clicks, like “Computer”, “Properties”, “Change Settings”, “Change”. Now you just have to type what you need on the Start menu, like “change power” for accessing Power Settings.

Cool Links

Conclusions

  • Windows 7 showed a great performance running on this laptop; and, at least in this beta version, doesn’t seem to require great aspects in hardware.
  • Excluding the MSI issue, I did not have any stability issues so far.
  • Internet Explorer 8 (included by default) still has some random issues, crashed a few times.
  • You can find several cool things on this new operating system, but still you won’t find much functionality differences between Windows Vista.

Regarding to stability and performance, if you ask me to make a choice between Windows Vista RTM and Windows 7 Beta, I would choose Windows 7. Vista (even though became more stable since SP1) has some issues and the performance still need some improvements.

If you get the chance, I’d recommend you to install it and give this Beta a try. And of course, share your feedback with the community.

Cheers!

 

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